Free Men’s Health Talk Provides Expert Advice in Comfortable Setting

Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli and urologist Dr. Richard Graham will lead a free men’s health talk on June 6 on colorectal health, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

The talk will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center with free pizza and refreshments served at 5:30 p.m.

The talk aims to raise awareness of men’s health issues and preventable conditions, such as colon cancer, in a comfortable atmosphere, says Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford vice president of surgery.

“Both of our physicians are very approachable and personable and are able to find the humorous side of these topics,” O’Berry said. “I’m thrilled that we have two surgeons who are gifted, passionate, and so easy to talk to.”

Dr. Ciccarelli has been a general surgeon for more than 20 years, providing surgical care and colonoscopies at Gifford since 2007.

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and Vermont.

Colorectal cancer develops from polyps that grow – silently, unseen and unfelt – on the inside wall of the colon. Many polyps will never become cancer, but some will over the years.

A colonoscopy can both detect and prevent colorectal cancer. This is because during a colonoscopy, these polyps are removed in their precancerous state or before disease can be felt, preventing the onset or the spread of the disease. And when found early, colorectal cancer is highly curable.

Without colonoscopies, it is not until polyps become cancerous, grow large, and block the colon or break through the colon wall that colon cancer symptoms are evident.

“This is one area of medicine where we can actually prevent disease, extend lives, and improve quality of life,” says Dr. Ciccarelli, who will also discuss other common colorectal health issues, such as diverticulosis, anal fissures, and hemorrhoids.

Dr. Richard Graham

Gifford’s new urologist, Dr. Richard Graham

A renowned urologist, Dr. Graham has been practicing urology for 28 years and has performed surgeries around the world. He joined Gifford’s urology practices in Randolph and at the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction last year, bringing new procedures to the hospital.

An urologist specializes in diseases of the male and female urinary tract as well as male reproductive organs. Dr. Graham will consequently talk about common male reproductive ailments, including prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

In Vermont, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Nationally, about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The average age of diagnosis is 67.

Treatment for prostate cancer can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects millions of men in the United States and can be a sign of more serious disease.

Dr. Graham will address how prostate cancer is diagnosed and treatment options, and what works for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. He’ll also discuss the controversy over PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests for men, when they should be performed, what they mean, and why doctors order the screening.

“It’s a serious subject,” Dr. Graham says of the talk that he has given around the world, “but it’s also interactive.”

The event is open to men of all ages and to couples. There is no cost to attend but registration is encouraged. Call 728-2104 by May 30 to sign-up.

Gifford is an American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer nationally accredited cancer program. The hospital is located at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked by a green awning. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org.

Giving Back to the Community

giving back to the community

Gifford’s Tom Maylin, Joe Woodin and Penny Maxfield load up Father Sixmund Nyabenda’s van with 36 boxes of outdated medical supplies to be shipped to Tanzania.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.

Each year Gifford is fortunate enough to be the recipient of grants, such as Avon Breast Health Outreach Program funds, as well as donations as a nonprofit organization.

As a major local employer and business, however, Gifford is also the donor of tens of thousands of dollars each year in scholarships, grants, awards, sponsorships, volunteer hours, reduced cost conference room space, medical supplies and local spending through the Gifford Gift Certificate program.

The Gifford Gift Certificate Program alone invests more than $40,000 each year into the local economy in the month of December, giving local retailers a needed boost at year-end.

The gift certificates are Gifford’s alternative to holiday bonuses. Instead of cash, employees get gift certificates good only at a variety of locally owned businesses. In the past nine years, the program has invested about $325,000 in the local economy. It’s an investment
merchants appreciate.

“During many Christmas seasons I thought, ‘Thank goodness for that program,’” says Jeanne Ward, who owned Cover to Cover bookstore in Randolph for 16 years. “It made a huge impact and often people would come and spend more than their gift certificate, which I think was Gifford’s intention. What’s also nice is how well the money is spread throughout the communities.”

Now one of Jeanne’s daughters, Hillary Leicher, is running the second-generation
bookstore as Bud and Bella’s Bookshop. Hillary says the gift certificates help keep local  stores like hers going, especially in the slow months following the holidays.

“When you go into these lean months, it’s like a gift from Gifford. It’s like you got medicine from the doctors.”

Other medicine the hospital provides includes almost $25,000 in annual grants to community organizations through what is now called the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation. The grants go to food shelves, children’s recreation programs, schools and libraries.

Previously known as community health grants, Gifford has been offering the annual grants to community nonprofits for 10 years, amounting to about $250,000 invested back into the community.

The grants are announced at the hospital’s annual meeting in March along with an additional $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award to a White River Valley organization involved in arts, health, community development, education or the
environment. The 2011 award went the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

A $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship is additionally awarded each year at Gifford’s Annual Meeting by the Medical Staff to an employee or an employee’s child pursuing a career in health care. The Medical Staff also awards a $1,500
scholarship to an area high school senior pursuing a health care career at graduation.

Free health talks, fairs, educational classes and support groups are regularly held at the medical center. Gifford sponsors Chandler events and the work of the March of Dimes, which shares the hospital’s mission to bring healthy, full-term babies into the world. Gifford once again supported the Vermont 100 Endurance Race with medical support
and supplies, and outdated medical supplies were sent to countries in need, like Tanzania, Honduras, Peru and Guatemala.

“ … we have received the box and all the items. I have … handed the box and all items to Rulenge Hospital ready for use,” wrote Tanzania priest Father John-Bosco Ndakimbuza upon receiving Gifford’s shipment. “They are high quality items I have been told. We are by this note expressing our sincere thanks for making this possible. I am sure many
people will be served by these items … .”

Tanzania, in Africa, is among the world’s poorest countries.

The collective efforts lead to a healthier community, and a healthier world.

And Jeanne, who still fills in occasionally behind the counter at Bud and Bella’s, suspects that is the point behind efforts like the gift certificates.

“The hospital supports the local business community because the people who work in the local business community are patients at the hospital, so it’s this mutually beneficial
relationship,” she says, adding, “A healthy downtown is a well community.”

Gifford Medical Center

Bud and Bella’s Bookshop owner Hillary Leicher has her arm around her son as she rings up a sale. Bud and Bella’s is one area business that has benefited from the Gifford Gift Certificate holiday shopping program.

Tropical Storm Irene Hits Pittsfield and Rochester

Tropical Storm Irene's impact on Pittsfield and Rochester

Stu Standish, from Gifford’s maintenance department, Dr. Minsinger and Kris Minsinger transport a Gifford generator, which was used to power several of Gifford’s health centers following Irene to ensure care was available to patients in need.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report, which featured examples of Gifford employees helping in their community post-Irene.

Dr. Bill Minsinger, and his son Kris, followed Stu Standish of Gifford’s Maintenance Department and internal medicine physician Dr. Mark Jewett into Rochester in their van. Stu hooked up the generator, getting the Rochester clinic up and running, and left Dr. Jewett to begin seeing patients.

Dr. Minsinger and Kris then climbed in the truck with Stu and continued on to the isolated towns of Stockbridge and Pittsfield to answer medical calls. At times they had to abandon the truck, climb down a fallen section of road and borrow a vehicle on the other side in order to continue.

One sick patient was brought to the Rochester clinic for medical tests and then back to Randolph for hospital care. The Minsingers made other trips to the isolated communities, bringing medications and medical supplies.

Gifford’s McGill-O’Rourke earns Ph.D.

Andrea McGill-O'Rourke

Andrea McGill-O'Rourke

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center Vice President of Operations Andrea McGill-O’Rourke Saturday earns her Ph.D. from the University of Maine at Orono after six years of study.

A Rochester resident, McGill-O’Rourke will earn her doctorate degree in education with a specialization in higher education. In addition to her work at Gifford, she is a long-time educator, currently teaching in the Health Care Management program at Champlain College.

“It feels really good to set a goal and complete it. That to me is the reward and I’ve just learned so much. It really inspired me. I love learning,” says McGill-O’Rourke of completing the degree she started in 2006.

Her dissertation focused on the work-life integration experiences of mid-level women leaders in the northeastern United States.

McGill-O’Rourke says she will use the experience she has gained through her doctorate coursework both in the classroom and in the workplace. “Whether I’m in the hospital or a classroom, I’m teaching. I really look for opportunities where I can educate staff,” she said.

A health care administrator for 32 years, McGill-O’Rourke has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ithaca College and a master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Prior to joining Gifford in 2009, she worked at Blue Hill Memorial hospital in Maine.

McGill-O’Rourke lives with her husband, Jay. Their “blended family” includes four adult children and two dogs, including a new puppy the couple will soon bring home – a chocolate lab they’ve named “Percy.” McGill-O’Rourke’s graduation present to herself, the dog’s name is short for “perseverance,” “because to me what this last six years has been about is perseverance.”

Four New Chaplains Join Gifford Volunteer Program

Gifford chaplains

Gifford Medical Center’s volunteer Chaplaincy Program welcomed four new members on April 12. The program, which provides non-sectarian counseling to patients and the hospital’s nursing home residents, was founded more than a decade ago.

RANDOLPH – The volunteer Chaplaincy Program at Gifford Medical Center welcomed four new chaplains into its ranks in April.

Majita Miller of Randolph, Christopher Fuhrmeister of Randolph, Deborah Aldrich of Stockbridge and Lydia English of Williamstown joined the hospital’s 19 volunteer chaplains on April 12 after completing a seven-week training program.

The occasion was marked with special certifications presented by The Rev. Timothy Eberhardt, spiritual care coordinator at Gifford, and with music by Islene Runningdeer, a Brookfield music therapist.

While the volunteer chaplains are from numerous congregations in the greater Gifford area, they are carefully trained to present “a non-sectarian caring presence,” responding to the spiritual needs and concerns of all patients, The Rev. Eberhardt noted.

Chaplains visit hospitalized patients daily through all stages of life – from the Birthing Center to the Garden Room for end-of-life patients – and spend considerable time at Gifford’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility.

Another seven-week training course will be held in the evenings this fall. Anyone who is interested in the program or would like to learn more is encouraged to call Eberhardt at (802) 728-2107.

Gifford pediatrician named state’s ‘CDC Childhood Immunization Champion’

Dr. Lou DiNicola

Randolph pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola poses with a national award he received this week honoring him as the first-ever “CDC Childhood Immunization Champion” for Vermont.

RANDOLPH – Long-time Gifford Medical Center pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lou DiNicola this week received national recognition for his work around childhood immunizations.

Dr. DiNicola of Randolph was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and the CDC Foundation as the first ever “CDC Childhood Immunization Champion” for the state of Vermont.

The award was announced in a letter to Dr. DiNicola from Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Anne Schucaht and CDC Foundation President Charles Stokes, who thanked Dr. DiNicola for his “efforts to help save lives by ensuring that our nation’s children are fully vaccinated.”

“It humbles me,” said Dr. DiNicola of the surprise award. “It humbles because it really shouldn’t go to me. I’m one of many.” Nurses, office staff, the Department of Health and caregivers across the state all work on the issue of immunizations, he noted.

A pediatrician in Randolph since 1976, Dr. DiNicola has long since been among those caregivers advocating for immunizations in their practices and on a state level.

Dr. DiNicola also now serves as president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter. In that role and as a pediatrician, he’s been a strong advocate of a Senate bill now in committee that proposed to eliminate the current “philosophical,” non-medical and non-religious, vaccine exemption for children entering childcare and school.

Dr. DiNicola has been to the Statehouse multiple times to testify regarding the issue, penned editorials to regional media, spent hours reaching out the governor and other state officials and helped establish the first-ever advocacy program for physicians in their residency program at the University of Vermont. The program teaches physicians in-training how to advocate for children’s health.

The efforts are all meant to better immunization rates that he says are now a major problem in Vermont.

The immunization rate of incoming kindergartners has dropped from 93 percent in 2006 to 83 percent today, according to Vermont Department of Health data. “We’re going to face significant morbidity and probably mortality,” if vaccinations rates don’t change, Dr. DiNicola says, urging parents and lawmakers not to “allow children to be opted out of a lifetime of health and happiness.”

And providing children a lifetime of good health has always been Dr. DiNicola’s goal. In fact, he’s received approximately five previous national awards over his 36-year career, including a recognition from Pres. Jimmy Carter, awards for work with special needs children, a Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) award and more.

To learn more about Dr. DiNicola’s efforts around immunizations, visit the CDC online at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/champions.

Gifford staff raise $455 for March of Dimes

Blue Jeans for Babies

Gifford Medical Center Communications Specialist Robin Palmer, right, presents March of Dimes Vermont State Chapter Director Roger Clapp with a “check” for $455. Gifford employees raised the money last month for the March of Dimes for wearing Blue Jeans for Babies.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center staff donned “Blue Jeans for Babies” last month, raising $455 for the March of Dimes in the annual fund-raiser.

Blue Jeans for Babies takes place across the nation as workplaces like Gifford give employees the opportunity to wear jeans to work for a day in exchange for a donation – in Gifford’s case: $5 – to the March of Dimes.

“It’s an event employees look forward to and greatly enjoy each year because they get to both support the March of Dimes and wear jeans to work for a day,” said Robin Palmer, a member of Gifford’s Marketing Department who helped organize the hospital’s effort.

“The March of Dimes’ mission also matches nicely with Gifford’s as we both work to bring healthy babies into the world,” Palmer added.

The March of Dimes is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. It raises funds through a variety of events to help prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality. Blue Jeans for Babies is one such fund-raiser.

Roger Clapp, March of Dimes Vermont Chapter director, thanked hospital employees for wearing “blue jeans for babies” and noted funds raised will be used to support stronger, healthier babies in Vermont.

March of Dimes Honors Gifford with ‘Leadership Legacy’ Award

March for Dimes' Leadership Legacy award

March of Dimes Vermont State Chapter Director Roger Clapp, right, presents Gifford Medical Center caregivers with a Leadership Legacy award for their support of healthy babies and the March of Dimes. Gifford staff members pictured, from left, are pediatrician and pediatric hosptalist Dr. Lou DiNicola and Birthing Center registered nurses Kim Summers and Karin Olson.

RANDOLPH – The Vermont Chapter of the March of Dimes today honored Gifford Medical Center with a Leadership Legacy award.

The award, presented by March of Dimes Vermont Chapter Director Roger Clapp, recognizes the Randolph hospital for both its commitment to prenatal, birth, and newborn care, and its support of the March of Dimes.

“This award recognizes Gifford’s leadership in newborn care, which has been ongoing for a number of years, as well as Gifford’s support of the mission of the March of Dimes, which is to improve the health of babies,” Clapp said.

The March of Dimes strives to prevent birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality through research, quality initiatives, community services, education, and advocacy. Gifford has been a leader in low intervention births and midwifery and obstetrics for more than 30 years.

The hospital is also a supporter of the March of Dimes’ upcoming March for Babies walks in central Vermont on Sunday, starting at the Montpelier High School at 9 a.m., and the Randolph walk on May 19, starting at the village fire station, also at 9 a.m.

“We’re really proud of what we do. We love what we do. We work with a great team of providers and staff. We have the same goal to start babies on the right foot, and we’re here to support them, I say, until they go to college,” said Gifford Birthing Center registered nurse Karin Olson.

“For more than 30 years I have had the honor of working in Gifford’s Birthing Center caring for more than 5,000 newborns during this time,” added pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lou DiNicola. “There is no better model that I know of to provide excellent, family-centered care for our mothers, families, and newborns. The midwives, obstetricians, nurses, and pediatricians in Gifford’s Birthing Center provide a superb setting that is safe for our newborns.”

This is the second recent award for the Randolph hospital for its work around positive birth outcomes.

Gifford’s midwives were recognized as a “best practice” in the nation by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The practice looked at 2010 benchmarking data and named Gifford as having the highest success rate with vaginal births after caesareans as compared to similar small-size practices. The midwives were additionally named a “runner-up best practice” for both lowest rates of low birth weight infants and operative vaginal births. Operative vaginal births means births using vacuum or forceps.

Vermont as a whole has also been recognized for having healthy babies. The Vermont Chapter of the March of Dimes was the only in the nation to receive an “A” rating recently from the national March of Dimes organization. The rating, explains Clapp, looked at the state’s reduction in premature births. Vermont’s rate of premature births is 8.4 percent compared to a national average of 12 percent. The March of Dimes has set a 9.6 percent premature birth rate as a 2020 goal – a figure Vermont is already well below.

To learn more about the March of Dimes, including the upcoming March for Babies, visit www.marchofdimes.com/vermont. Find Gifford on the Web at www.giffordmed.org.

Experienced Vermont Family Physician Joins Gifford Hospitalist Team

Dr. Sandy Craig

Dr. Sandy Craig

RANDOLPH – Dr. Sandy Craig brings his 17 years of family, inpatient and emergency medicine experience to Gifford Medical Center as the newest member of the hospitalist team.

Dr. Craig, who grew up in Ripton and Johnson, most recently was a family physician at The Health Center in Plainfield.

He took an indirect road to becoming a Vermont physician, however.

A 1982 graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Dr. Craig studied biology and psychology but put medical school on hold while he traveled to Indonesia and Africa.

He spent two-and-a-half years teaching English at a medical school and a university, the Universitas Islam Nusantara, both in Bandung, and then doing wildlife research in Kenya.

Back in the United States, he worked for a Santa Cruz, Calif., animal hospital as a research assistant in genetics at his alma mater.

He returned to Vermont to attend medical school at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, graduating in 1992. Along the way, he worked as a firefighter in his hometown of Ripton, an emergency medical technician in Middlebury and as a nurse’s aide at Porter Medical Center. He also did a clinical elective at San Jose Pediatrics Hospital in Costa Rica and later at the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council in Harare, Zimbabwe.

He completed his internship and residency in family medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Family Medicine. He went on to become a clinical instructor for the UNC-Chapel Hill medical school and an emergency department doctor at UNC’s Chatham Hospital for two years.

He returned to Vermont in 1998, where he has worked since as a family physician and later clinical director at Plainfield’s health center with admitting privileges at Central Vermont Medical School.

The work, says Dr. Craig, included considerable care of inpatients, or hospitalized patients.

While saddened to leave his outpatient practice in Plainfield, Dr. Craig is looking forward to delving into more inpatient work at Gifford as a member of the hospitalist team. Hospitalists are physicians and mid-level providers who care for hospitalized patients. Gifford was among the first small hospitals in Vermont to have a hospitalist practice.

“I like community medicine and I’m very interested in hospital work,” says Dr. Craig. “I’m excited to be working for a community-oriented hospital offering patients a personal touch.”

Dr. Craig is board certified by The American Academy of Family Physicians. He’s also a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Vermont Medical Association, and The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He’s returned to Asia and Africa for international relief work, including to Indonesia in 2005 following the Indian Ocean tsunami.

He diagnosed New England’s first case of Hantavirus in 2000. His clinical interests include infectious disease, sports medicine, and hospitalist medicine.

Dr. Craig lives in East Montpelier with his 10-year-old son, Riley, and in his free time enjoys skiing, hiking, paddling, and climbing.

Gifford’s 2011 Annual Report: The Role of a Community Medical Home

Gifford Medical Center's 2011 annual report

Gifford Medical Center has released its 2011 Annual Report called “The Role of a Community Medical Home”.

Its contents include:

  • 2011 highlights
  • Community response to Tropical Storm Irene
  • “Contributing to the economy as an employer”
  • “Giving back to the community”
  • “Employees volunteering locally and afar”
  • “Advancing technology for patients, physician recruitment”
  • “Prepared for an emergency”
  • “A conservative approach to health care reform”
  • “The Vermont Blueprint for Health: Redefining primary care”
  • “Not just a medical center; a medical home”
  • “An award-winning medical center”
  • Volunteer profile: Major McLauglin
  • Messages from hospital leaders
  • Medical statistics
  • Financials
  • Donor profile: The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary
  • Gifford Corporators

Click here to download the report.